Security For The Disabled
November 16, 2012
Originally Published May 28, 2012
This is one of the most important blogs I’ve written in my career. I am going to focus on how those of us who are disabled can stay safe while they are out and about. We’ve talked about home security and landscaping over the past week or so. Now it’s time to pay attention to the most important thing of all you. YOU.
It don’t really matter what your disability is. Whether you’re in a wheelchair, using a walker, blind, deaf, or just simply being older and losing some of your senses. The one major consideration that you have to make is awareness.
You have to be aware of what is going on around you. If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings you can make a mistake and find yourself in a place you don’t want to be. No matter where you live in America, there will be places in your town where you don’t really want to be because it’s simply too dangerous for you. And again, only your disability can make that determination.
If you are blind, like me, or in a wheelchair, you have to know what type of ground you’re on or you’ll fall or tip over. These are dangers even if you know where you are! If you’re a quad and utilizing a wheelchair, then it can be somewhat terrifying if you tip over.
If you’re blind and in a chair you have to be even doubly careful about what’s around you. Add to the fact that there is no way you’ll move anywhere’s close to as fast as someone who is walking, even blind, then it’s even more frustrating.
In these instances, don’t let anyone push you to go faster than you feel safe enough to go. I understand that people want to help and don’t want us to get caught in the middle of the street when the light changes. But they don’t realize that moving faster than you can or grabbing and pulling you along can be just as dangerous as being stuck in the street!
Take your time and let your cane show you where you’re at. Don’t take anything for granted when moving down a sidewalk or across the street. In this case make every effort to do one thing and do it well. Listen. If you don’t listen closely, then you may miss a clue as to something coming up on you or that the road is ready to end.
If you are just older and using a support cane or walker, then the same thing applies. Be aware of what is around you. If you have to shuffle to get along, then you should. This is normally one thing I detest is shuffling because you use a walker or support cane, even worse if you use a white came and shuffle. In order to not be considered a target by ruffians, move as quickly as you can.
I walk faster than most. I have always felt that if you follow the military motto about walking, then no one will mess with you. That motto being ‘Walk like you have some place to go and something to do once you get there’. In other words walk confidently and quickly.
Use your ears, smell, intuition, & your eyes, if you can, to, not be afraid but be aware. Don’t just pay attention to your cane and what’s in front of you. Using those senses to pay attention to what’s around you while you’re out taking your ‘constitutional’. The landscaping, vehicles on the curb (or parked across the sidewalk), child toys, hoses, sprinklers, wires, and so on. Every thing you come across will change the sound of your surroundings. Pay attention to the changes to the noise level.
As for smell, that may be a little more subjective than your hearing, but don’t ignore it either. While out walking in the early morning sometimes, I’ve smelled natural gas emanating from a house. We have no pipelines in our neighborhood. However, someone was using a natural gas canister for some purpose and it was leaking. When I got home, I called the Fire Department. At 0400 someone got a knock at their door.
Everyone tells me what a wonderful sense of smell and hearing I have because I’m blind. It has nothing to do with that. It’s because #1 I walked a security patrol for more than 20 years and had to pay attention to the noises and smells in a warehouse at 0300. At that hour, any noise can be an attempt to break in and steal. As for smell, if you walk through a manufacturing plant that uses hazardous materials, then you’d better have a good nose!
#2, your senses don’t get better because you’re blind. They get better because you’re forced to utilize them to full effect. If you don’t pay attention o them, then you may find yourself in something nefarious and infamous.
As for intuition, that is even more subjective than smell. The only thing I can tell you about your gut instinct is this; if you think or feel something is wrong, it probably is. That in and of itself can be unnerving. If you’re alone and you know it, yet you feel you’re being watched or stared at. It can be enough to send shivers up your spine and make your nose hair curl! But don’t worry, it’s only those
Mean and dirty demons or ghosts watching you!
If you live in an apartment and you have security concerns, for any reason, don’t stop ‘complaining’ to the management. If anything is wrong with the doors, windows, or landscaping close by your apartment then you have to tell them about it. And over and above that, you have to document the complaints.
As I have always instructed people I’m training, if it isn’t written down and reported, then it didn’t happen. Think of it this way, if something should happen to you or your apartment who is to say you told the management?
That’s why the documentation is so important. And a last thought on this; No matter how you record it, ensure that you place a date, time, and who you spoke with/notified about the issue. Use your computer, voicemail on the phone, tape/digital recorder, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have a record of it.
Now you may ask, shouldn’t the complex be motivated to keep the place safe for the tenants? You would think they would, but I can assure you that is not always the case. As I stated before in a previous post, they are motivated by money and the perception of security. I’ll give you a good example of what I mean.
After moving to the area, I lived in a complex. The manager and the brochure assured us that it was as safe and secure as anything in the area. And they said they never had any serious incidents. What they didn’t count on is a security professional moving in. I wanted to do something to help them out with a few minor things. So I conducted a perimeter survey, with their permission, and gave them the results.
Suffice to say, I found well over a hundred issues with security at the complex. I gave them the report and they ignored it. That is until 4 years later someone was murdered in their apartment. I gave it to them again and contacted their ‘guard’ company with it. A year after we moved, nearly everything I said was wring had been rectified. 4 years after the initial report. Yet that entire time, they kept telling people it was amongst the safest in the area!
If you’re disabled no one can guarantee your security or safety. It is up to you to do the things by yourself to ensure that you are secure and safe when out and about or at home. Therefore, don’t let anyone patronize you and condescend to you about your concerns. Threaten to move if you have too, but be prepared to do it or it’s an empty threat.
If necessary, find a family member, neighbor, social service, pastor, or someone to help you push the agenda for better security and safety.
And if you in a home then ensure that you are as heavy on security as aesthetics in your house. I’m not trying to scare you about this, but just be aware about what’s around you and the potential for crime.
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